It also was felt in the nearby French Caribbean island of Martinique.
Barbados Police Constable Chris Greg told The Associated Press by telephone that the earthquake was felt throughout the island.
"It was strong," he said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor struck at a depth of 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) at 5:27 a.m. (0927 GMT) and was centered some 106 miles (170 kilometers) northeast of Bathsheba, Barbados.
Dennis Connell, a 55-year-old security supervisor at a local country club, said in a phone interview that he was just starting to wake up when the earthquake struck.
"I felt like the place was spinning," he said, adding that he didn't realize it was a temblor. "I thought I was going sick."
Connell lives at Barbados' most northern point, and said there was no damage to his home or his neighbors' houses.
Judy Thomas, director of Barbados' Emergency Management Department, said that thousands of people felt the quake but that it didn't last very long. She said she has received no reports of injuries or damage to infrastructure, and that there is no threat of tsunami.
"We're advising people to go about their business as usual," she said.
The eastern Caribbean was last struck by a powerful earthquake in 2007, when a magnitude-7.4 quake centered just northwest of Martinique's coastline severely damaged some buildings on the island.